Hanover's Howe Library hosts 21st year of Ciné Salon Program

Seven segments will be presented through April 16

by Savannah Miller | 1/18/18 12:05am

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Film restorationist Bruce Posner (right) is the creator of Ciné Salon, a program that screens seldom seen films at Howe Library.

Source: Courtesy of Bruce Posner

Hanover’s Howe Library will begin celebrating the 21st year of Ciné Salon, a program that celebrates seldom seen films, on Monday. Seven segments will be presented through April 16. With a variety of genres, Ciné Salon will feature psychedelic LSD films and avant-garde masterpieces.

Film restorationist Bruce Posner started Ciné Salon and has brought fringe films from all over the world to Hanover.

Megan Coleman, a librarian at the Howe who oversees programming, cites the obscurity of these films as one of Ciné Salon’s appeals.

“[Posner] finds things that, unless you know somebody, you might not have access to see,” Coleman said. “You have the chance to see something that you can brag to people about.”

Ciné Salon started after Posner realized that the types of films he was interested in were not readily available to viewers. Posner was able to use the connections he had made through his career as a filmmaker and archivist to bring the movies to Hanover and present them in a curated program. 

“I’ve somehow lucked out with the people I’ve met and the things I’ve done,” Posner said. 

Once he got his hands on these films, he suspected he would not be the only person interested in seeing them.

“I wasn’t going to show these movies at home alone, so I found this nice little library,” Posner said.

Coleman also said Ciné Salon is one of the most unique and beloved events celebrated annually at the Howe Library. 

“It’s been really fun,” Coleman said. “We let [Posner] curate it how he wants to ... We try and really promote it and let people know this is here.”

While the Howe also hosts other free events like yoga lessons, book groups and speeches, Coleman said Ciné Salon is an event that really stands out to the library patrons because of the wide range of themes and subject matter.

“[Posner] had an interest in movies, especially avant-garde, niche-y films,” Coleman said. “This spring, [Ciné Salon is] focusing on underground films.”

Amelia Kahl, associate curator of the academic program at the Hood Museum of Art, will introduce the Feb. 26 segment. “Resonant Spaces: Adkins/Conrad,” which celebrates artists Terry Adkins and Tom Conrad. Like Posner, she said that the Hanover area is a unique environment for creative discovery.

“Dartmouth is a place for exploration and critical thought,” Kahl wrote in an email statement. “These kind of events expose the community to work that they may not know and bring people together to discuss and enjoy them.”

This year, Ciné Salon has an even stronger connection to Dartmouth, stemming from discoveries Posner made in the attic of a Dartmouth building. According to Posner, before the Hopkins Center for the Arts was built, movies were screened on campus in a small room in Fairbanks Hall, which is now divided into North and South Fairbanks. Posner recently went to explore the space and found a secret opening in the ceiling of the room.

“We look up, and there’s a trap door in the ceiling,” Posner said. “The whole length of the building [had] films, thousands of films.”

Posner found boxes with computer labels containing various types of films relating to the College, including Dartmouth football tapes spanning from the 1920s to the 1990s, the history of the Dartmouth Film Society and several of the movies the group had brought to campus.

One portion of Ciné Salon that screens on March 5 is titled “Brakhage at Dartmouth,” and it draws inspiration from some of the found materials. 

Stan Brakhage was a 20th century experimental filmmaker who attended Dartmouth for one term in 1951 but decided to leave to pursue filmmaking. Brakhage returned to campus in 1955 to premiere his first-ever film “Dog Star Man.” 

Posner found old copies of The Dartmouth detailing Brakhage’s return and manifesto calling for the College to support its artists.

“In this box labeled ‘March 18, 1955’ were all the correspondences between him and the guy who ran the film society about Brakhage coming back to show his films at Dartmouth,” Posner said. 

For “Brakhage at Dartmouth,” Ciné Salon will be playing “Dog Star Man, Part Four,” “Unglassed Windows Cast a Terrible Reflection” and “23rd Psalm Branch.” 

Ciné Salon will also include segments such as “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,”a film noir based on a short story. “Resonant Spaces” gets its name from the exhibition on view at Dartmouth in the fall term that Kahl co-curated. 

Kahl said the films featured in “Resonant Spaces” segment, like all the pieces in Ciné Salon, are important to film history and personal development. 

“Film, like other forms of art, asks us to open our mind to new ideas and new questions,” Kahl wrote. “Collaborating with partners on campus and in our community is a key part of the work we do at the Hood. We’re happy that a work from a recent show can be shown again in a different context.”

Coleman and Posner agree that the main reason Ciné Salon has been successful over two decades is the universality of the movies.

“Film can attract pretty much anybody,” Coleman said.

Monday’s segment “Acid Visions” will feature psychedelic films and mash-ups, including “Be-in” a 1967 short film from the late cinematographer Jerry Adams.